Halloween

Pete the Pirate.JPG

Pete the Pirate joins us for Thanksgiving

 

My husband has a thing for purchasing odd and unusual items during this Fall/Thanksgiving/Halloween season. A few years ago he found “Pete the Pirate” at a second hand store.

We do love to cruise the aisles of the second-hand and Goodwill stores……You just never know what you will find. You can find things that you did not know you needed to have until you actually see them. That is what happened with Pete.

We were looking through all the different things the store had to offer.  I am usually looking at books for myself and the grandkids, or craft items (you can never have to many books or craft items). I noticed my husband hanging out in the back of the store with a bunch of other guys.

I thought it would be wise to go see what he was up to.  As I came around the rack that held the bath towels, I saw him…… He was standing next to a life size pirate. This particular pirate came complete with hat, beads, peg leg, hook and a box full of electronics.

The first words out of his mouth (my husband’s …… not Pete’s) were, “Look at this!  Isn’t this great…….We should buy this!” The first words out of mine were, “What in the world would we do with a pirate?” My husband was much fuller of excitement and enthusiasm about this than I was.

I did notice that the majority of the people hanging around the pirate were guys. They all looked impressed and were making comments of “Sweet!” “That is so Cool!”…..

It did not take long and Pete was in a cart, legs dangling over the sides, holding his box of electronics and headed for the check out line. I should specify…..he was in a cart pushed by my husband, who felt he had won the pirate lottery.

As we stuffed Pete in the trunk of our car we were grateful no one reported to the authorities that someone was stuffing a body in a car trunk.

Once we got Pete home, we promptly sat him in a rocking chair in the living room and tried hooking up his electrical stuff. We discovered that when you plugged him in, his head would swivel and his very blue eyes would move. It was eerie the way those eyes seemed to follow our every move. We also discovered that if we were electronic wizards we would be able to figure out how to make him talk through a transmitter and receiver set up.  As we are not electronic wizards, all that stuff is still tucked safely away in the box that held it at the store.

The first Thanksgiving after Pete joined our family we hosted my side of the family for Thanksgiving dinner. We parked Pete in his own chair by the table and waited for the reactions as family arrived. We were not disappointed. Some were slightly freaked out. Some were totally freaked out (mainly the women) and some were in awe (the guys).

Pete has now become a permanent fixture in our home.  He hangs out in a spare room upstairs that houses the toys for the grandkids. At first our grandson did not like Pete. He has since learned Pete is harmless and that this is a pirate that will willingly lend his hat to a 5 year old.

coyote-maybe

Coyote?

 

Meanwhile, we continue to enjoy the second hand
and Goodwill stores.  I have talked my husband
down from a few purchases.  Purchases, such as a
foot tall, owl shaped candle and a scraggly teddy
bear with a human face.

Last week I was unable to talk him down from his
latest purchase……an adult sized costume of a coyote
(I think it might be a coyote).  I guess if someone can
have a good time for $4.00…..who am I to stand in
his way?

After 36 years, I have discovered that marriage is about compromise. He buys a $4.00 coyote type costume and I buy a $4.00 tea set. Who knows, in the coming years, what will find a home in our spare room.

May you have a safe Halloween or as I knew this holiday as a kid….Happy Reformation Day!

Thrift shops are my favorite places for inspiration,
you never know what you are going to find. It’s a treasure hunt.
Paul Octavious

 

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Friendships and Tea Sets

Well-Loved Tea Set.JPG

For some reason tonight I am struggling to organize my thoughts.  I keep rearranging them and sorting them out in my mind while I try to get them typed into this post. Perhaps it is because the day was full.  It was full of laughter, joy, sharing and love. The day has left so may thoughts swirling through my brain that it is difficult to know where to start and where to end.

It was a great day spent with two close friends. I have known who these two women are; for probably 16 years.  It is only the last few years that I have really come to know these two women. We met at a Christian retreat and have met at that same retreat for many years.

When you have shared life stories, shared tears and shared laughter you realize what a gift friendship and relationship can be. These women have seen the best of me and I am pretty sure they have seen the worst of me…..and yet they call me friend!  It is almost as if God has gifted me with two extra sisters….you know…..where they have to love you no matter what????

We spent the day in a couple small towns in our area today. As friends, we share a love for small little shops that are full of repurposed things made from windows, doors, ice-skates etc. We love to find the odd and the unusual in everything from home decorating items to clothing. I am thinking we  might also love to BE the odd and unusual! (Trying on “blingy” headbands and taking selfies is always a good time!) I have no doubt there are some stories being told about “three crazy women that came into the store today……”

We have learned over time that when we plan a day out we struggle to make up our minds as to what we want to do or where we want to go. (That might be a woman thing……but who really knows?)   After the first time we made plans to have a “friend day” we have also learned that we need to make very “loose” plans and be ready to rearrange as necessary.

That first time we got together, we never did get out of the small town that was the prearranged meeting place. (It probably did not help that we met at a little coffee/tea shop and spent a couple hours just catching up!) Our husbands were stunned and their eyes kind of glazed over when we came home and told them we never made it to the city with the big stores, malls etc. and that we had spent the entire day poking through the little shops and second hand store that this small town offered. I know my husband spent the night just kind of looking at me and shaking his head.  Every so often he would mumble something and give me an odd look.

These two women are the kind of friends who are great to go shopping with.  They will give you an honest answer when you ask the dreaded question, “What do you think of these jeans on me?” We then ponder on the fact that men never ask that question. Do they not care what jeans look like on them? Those are also the type of question we discuss when we are together….we have come up with lots of answers to these types of questions; but I am thinking they might not be the right ones.

These two are also the kind of friends you can be intensely serious with and intensely silly with…..sometimes in the same conversation.  They are the kind of friends where you laugh till you cannot breathe and sometimes you laugh so hard you snort.

They are the kind that help you find a well-loved, well-used, well-worn tea set for an almost 3 year old granddaughter….because they know your granddaughter loves tea parties. I love the thought that when I am invited to a tea party with my granddaughter these two friends will come to mind because of that tea set.

The older I get the more I value relationships with those around me.  Not just the surface kind…but the kind where people are “real”. The masks are off and you know that what you see is really what you get. It is a rare gift.  It is a blessing. It is something to be valued.

May you be blessed with friends who are a blessing to you as much as you are a blessing to them.

I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3
NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Wonderings

Chicken Grandma meets the Big Chicken.jpg

Every once in awhile a person spots something that just leaves them wanting to see it again. Usually this is the type of thing that just captures your fancy and makes you grin. It is always something that makes you take a step back and just say “wow”.

A while back my husband and I took a side street in a town about 20 miles away. We were on our way to the grocery store and thought this route would be quicker. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted something so amazing that I knew I would need to see it again.  I also knew I would need to have my picture taken with it.

That something, was the biggest chicken I have ever laid eyes on! It was huge and it was impressive. It left me wondering just who owns such a bird?  It also left me wondering what kind of person owns such a bird? And then the next question is “where does one go to get such a bird?”

Part of me thinks this is really great and how cool it would be to have a chicken of this size to greet people as they drove on our yard. (I am picturing my husband doing an eye-roll when he reads this!) Wouldn’t it be fun to see the different reactions people would have when they encountered a chicken of this size standing proud and tall…..really tall, at the end of the driveway? I can easily see family photos with the chicken and putting them on Christmas cards.

Another part of me wonders about the history of this chicken.  Did it start out by some restaurant?  Did this huge metal beauty grace the front yard of a large poultry producer? Did some chicken grandma purchase him and bring him home only to find chicken grandpa wasn’t as impressed with her purchase? Was this wonderful specimen of chickanry (I really have no idea if this is a word….but I do kind of like how it sounds.) banned from his former residence and brought here?  How in the world did this wondrous metal chicken end up here?

Unfortunately I don’t think I am going to know the answers to my burning questions. At least not tonight I won’t.  I may have to do some digging to find out some of the answers to my wonderings. For now I will just have to content myself with the pictures of this stunning bird. He is a really happy-looking, large metal chicken!

It is probably just as well I do not personally own this big metal rooster. It would probably be intimidating to my “girls”. I wonder if it would prompt them to lay more eggs just to compensate or if it would scare them into less egg laying? Another mystery that  will never be solved…….

Money can’t buy happiness;
but it can buy chickens……
and that’s sort of the same thing.
Anonymous

 

Potatoes, Weeds and Other Ponderings

 

grass-burrToday was the day that the remainder of the potatoes have been dug out of the garden.  We heard that the forecast said possible rain coming in the next day or so. It was decided that we should probably take that forecast to heart as we cannot count on the days staying as beautiful and mild as they have been.

We have been pretty spoiled with our weather lately. It is great but it makes putting off outdoor tasks, way too easy. We do have to remember we live in the midwest and winter will arrive at some point. So…….today my husband decreed it was potato digging day.

Digging potatoes is always kind of exciting in an odd way.  You plant those “eyes” in the early spring, hoe them, water them (sometimes you water them and sometimes you just wait for God to do that job.), you put grass around them to keep the weeds down and then you wait.  And you wait. You pull some weeds. You pray for rain. You wait some more. You pull a few more weeds.  The plants die (which is a relief because then you figure you can quit weeding!). And finally it is time to dig them up and see what actually grew under there.

I mowed the potatoes last week. Yes, that is right.  I mowed and bagged the area the potatoes were in.  Once the plants die and you quit pulling weeds; you discover a sad fact.  That sad fact is that the weeds do not die at the same time as the potato plants. Those weeds can get quite large and the entire area looks very unsightly and in general…..just a mess. So I mowed and bagged them so we would be able to locate where the potato plants actually were.

I discovered today that it is not the big weeds that get to be the problem.  There are some little grassy weeds that I am sure were dreamt up by the devil himself. Those little weeds are grass burrs.  (I did not know what they were called till today when I googled them.) I am not sure who named those things but, to just call them grass burrs does not do justice to how diabolical they actually are.

The little burr type seed head things are painful.  They are tiny and are round spiny little balls of agony when they stick into your skin.  They like to hook onto the edges of your jeans or stick in your socks and then when you cross your ankles later it is like having someone stick a bunch of needles into your flesh. I really, really hate those things!

I found out as we were digging potatoes just how nasty they were. Many times when I reached down to pick up a spud, unbeknownst to me, there would be one of those little buggers hiding underneath the spud. By the time we were done digging all the hills; my fingers were tingling from all the little “sticks” I had suffered from those burrs.

I think this weed is a lot like “stuff” in life.  It is not always the big things that take us down and cause pain.  Sometimes it is just the accumulation of too many tiny, little hurts and frustrations that finally get to us. It is the things that hide in the odd places and catch us unawares that cause us pain and get us to react in a way that we normally would not.

I guess I am going to have to keep pulling weeds in my garden and in my life.  Even when the potatoes look dead, I need to remember they are still living beneath the ground and still growing. I am finding out there is never really a time to just let the weeds go…..there is never a time to quit weeding, watering and praying. If I do quit, I find it will eventually come back to make life difficult.

Weeds are pulled up by the roots to clear the fields for the growing grain.
Why should not mental weeds be pulled up by the roots also,
and the mind cleared for growth?
~Horace Fletcher
Menticulture, 1895

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tiny/

 

 

 

 

Shades of Harvest

Ready For Harvest.JPG

The seasons are definitely changing in our area.  All the lush green fields have turned to shades of browns.  They even sound different.  The leaves on the corn stalks rustle dryly with the slightest breeze. And there is a smell in the air that only comes from damp leaves slowly disintegrating into the soil.

Where fields were once alive and growing they are now dead-looking, dry and ready to be harvested. The soybeans have mostly been combined and farmers have now moved on to the corn fields.

Bean Field at Dusk.JPG

As I stood on my porch I could hear the sounds of harvest going on around me. The sound of tractors, wagons and combines rolling through those fields of Iowa corn, harvesting millions of beautiful, golden kernels. It is the sound of compensation for the worry, sweat and prayers that have gone into that crop since the day the seeds were put in the ground.

I did not get a picture of a wagon full of corn as my husband brought them back empty after unloading them at the local grain elevator. Perhaps tomorrow I can get that accomplished.

Wagons Waiting to be Refilled.JPG

The roads to town are filled with these same tractors and wagons making their way to the local grain elevators. Our radio stations even warn us to all be more alert as we travel during this time of year as the farmers move at a slower pace than the rest of the traffic.

There is a beauty to this season that is fall.  The beauty lies in the quiet evenings that echo with the distant hum of grain dryers and farmers staying late in the fields.  There is a beauty in the many shades of brown and the leaves that are turning yellow and beginning to fall and carpet the ground. There is beauty in the smell that comes up from the earth as it is once again uncovered after a field is combined.

So many things about fall are a feast for the senses. The colors that draw your eyes to the edge of the river, the red blaze of a sugar maple, the rustle of dry grass and withered corn leaves, the lonesome sound of geese as they fly south for the winter, the feel of moist dirt that falls off a newly dug potato, the chill of the evening air, the frost sparkling on the grass in the morning,  and the smell of wood smoke coming from the chimney.

There is such a timeless feel to the changing of the seasons. Perhaps because it is timeless. There is a comfort in the continuity of this cycle of life. There is a comfort in knowing that it has been this way since the beginning of time and it will continue till the end of time.

It is a blessing to live in a place where the seasons are so ingrained in the rhythm of our lives. It takes a certain faith to put those seeds in the ground in the spring and wait for the harvest. There is a blessing in being dependent and it has given me a deep appreciation for what the Creator has gifted us.

May you see the blessing this weekend.

 

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22
New International Version (NIV)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/millions/

 

 

 

 

Garage Doors, Woodchucks & Life Lessons

Door Installation.JPG

My husband and I have been attempting to install a garage door these last two days. I am quite proud of the fact that so far it is going quite well and we hope to have it accomplished by tomorrow night. (I realize that a professional would be laughing their backsides off right now over the fact that it is taking us this long.)

These are probably “vintage” garage doors. We purchased two of them over 5 years ago and they have both been neatly stored in the machine shed, waiting for the day we got brave enough to try install them. This week IS the week when we are learning garage door installation as we are putting one of them in. Thank heaven for google and the instructions you can find there.  They do give you an instruction booklet with your garage door kit; but there are not nearly enough pictures and diagrams…..

Getting the doors on the garage, is one of the milestones in our home improvement project. Another milestone, in the garage construction, was laying a cement floor a few years back.  Before that it was a very powdery, uneven dirt floor. It is unreal how dusty your back hallway can get from all that fine powdery dirt when it is hauled in on the bottom of your shoes.

Chuck

While we were still in the dirt floor phase we had a resident
groundhog/woodchuck make our garage his home. We aptly named him “Chuck”. (It could be we also lacked imagination in the name game.)
Chuck had holes dug everywhere in our garage and they all led to his underground home. During that
particular winter he was probably the warmest,hibernating groundhog ever.

He lived in our garage during a previous presidential election season. I found it kind of funny that he decided to line his home with the plastic from the candidate signs that were stored in our garage after that election. I wonder what Chuck would do with the signs from this years’ candidates? I think underground might be the best place for these particular candidates’ signs! He was probably a woodchuck who was way ahead of his time when it comes to discernment during election season.

There are times I think it would be handy to be like Chuck. When it gets below zero in the wintertime I think hibernating would be a fine thing to do. Below zero weather is so over-rated and to sleep through the coldest, snowiest months would not be all bad. I don’t think I would like missing the holidays though; so…… maybe not such a great time to be asleep? Hmmmmmm, I will have to think on that one a bit more.

I do know I will enjoy the garage doors once they are on and operational. The wild critters that have used our garage as a home through the years might not like it; but I will not miss all the chicken feathers (and other chicken “stuff”), the bits of twigs from birds nesting in the rafters, wild critters roaming in and out, and other bits and pieces from the outdoors blowing around in our garage.

I have the feeling that once those doors are on we are going to sit back and wonder why we waited so long. Sometimes life, things and projects can look so intimidating until you actually get started on them. Sometimes I think we just need to open the box, take out the parts, read the manual and get to it.

I am pretty sure Chuck never gave a thought to failure when he decided, those many years ago, to make our garage his winter home. He did not worry about being chased out or if he was welcome. He just came on in and did what he needed to do.

I may have to re-read this post the next time an intimidating project lays too long in the back of the shed. I may have to think like Chuck and just come on in.  I may have to remind myself to “just get to it” the next time life seems overwhelming or just to hard to even get started. I wonder if I am the only one who ever feels this way……I suspect I am not.

 

“We must be willing to fall flat on our faces. Fearlessly putting ourselves out there is simply a required part of the process. At the very least, it results in the gift of humility and, at best, the triumph of our human spirit.”
Jill Badonsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trips and Memories

The Boyden Pit.JPG

Yesterday was a wonderful, slow, autumn Sunday. As there was nothing urgent taking place in the afternoon we decided it would be a good time to take a little road trip. My husband had a couple ideas of places to go and we picked one that brought back a lot of memories.

The place we decided to head for was a spot that we used to visit a lot as teenagers……the Boyden Pit. Back when we were in high school it was the place to be on a hot summer afternoon. After hot sweaty mornings of walking beans it was a great place to go and cool off.

The beach was small and did not have the greatest sand, but it was always full of teenagers, moms with little kids and was loud with the sound of laughter, water splashing, and the tunes belting out of multiple battery operated radios. It was the perfect place to see others and to be seen.

All we needed for a great afternoon was a beach towel, a  radio, a few snacks, some pop, and as many friends as we could round up. We didn’t worry about sunscreen…..skin cancer was not on the radar that decade. In fact we would use baby oil to get the great dark tan that we all coveted.

There weren’t any life guards on this beach and we were all responsible for our own safety. We did make sure to swim in pairs if we were swimming out to “the island”. (I am not sure it was really an island but it was on the other side of the pit and seemed to take forever to get there.)

I don’t know the entire history of the Pit. I do know it was a former sand/gravel pit where some company or other dug out the sand and gravel to use in other places. Once they had gotten as much as they wanted the machinery was taken away and water filled the hole that was left. It became a natural place for people to go and cool off on steamy summer days and nights.

There was even a massive cottonwood tree with a rope attached for those who wanted to swing off the cliff, dangle precariously over the water and let go in a timely manner. If you did not let go soon enough you slammed back into the cliff and slid, in an inglorious fashion, down the face of the cliff and into the water.

the-cottonwood-tree

Later the tree met it’s end when it was sawed down because too many people had hurt themselves. (Our high school Bible teacher ended up having surgery after smashing his heel against that cliff wall.) All that remains of the tree is the weathered stump in the photo above.  It was a sad day for those who loved the thrill of flying over the water and plummeting to the water 20 feet below. I never had the urge to attempt that feat after having witnessed the slamming and sliding type of end to a swing on the rope.

It seemed that with the death of the big cottonwood; a lot of changes came to the Pit. Someone drowned and the Pit was closed for a number of years due to insurance issues. The beach that once was alive with shouts and laughter slowly grew over with weeds and small trees. The concrete bath house was torn down and only a non-functional light pole remains to mark it’s location.

Some years back the County took over the Pit area and began the task of turning it into a place where people would once again picnic, fish and camp.  It is not the same as it was back in the day I regularly visited it…. there are some things I like better and some memories that are hard to let go.

The beach area is no longer available for swimming as there is no swimming allowed.  People now come with their canoes, fishing poles, tents and campers. They come and once again this place is a place for people to spend time together.

The quiet that is this fall season, lays like a blanket over this area. The mowed path that now makes it’s way around the pit is an invitation to take a walk and listen to the leaves rustle in the wind. It is fun to observe the frogs sitting on the rotted logs at the water’s edge and to see the birds flit from tree to tree.

I have a feeling it is the same quiet that held this place way back before it’s years as a gravel pit. It is probably the same quiet that descended when the pit was closed to the public for those many years. It is a quiet that permeates this place and seeps into the soul when you stand quietly at the water’s edge.

The “new” pit is a beautiful, peaceful place. For those who did not come here in the 70’s and 80’s it is probably hard to imagine how noisy it once was. All I have to do is stand on the overgrown beach, close my eyes, and those days once again play out in my mind like scenes from an old movie.

I think I have enjoyed the best of both worlds that make up the life of this place.  I have lived the vibrant, noisy memories of my youth spent on this beach and I am also getting to soak in the quiet, soul-nourishing peace that it is now. It is indeed a blessing.

All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter another.
~Anatole France